History of Shinagawa Batteries (Daiba)

Chronology

• June 1853 - Perry's ships arrive in Uraga Channel
• July 1853 - Egawataro Zaemon (Egawa Hidetatsu) designs 11 batteries off the coast of Shinagawa.
• August 1853 - Construction begins of batteries 1 through 3.
• January 1854 - Perry returns to Uraga Channel commanding seven warships.
• April 1854 - Batteries 1 through 3 are completed.
• May 1854 - The shogunate suspends construction of batteries 4 and 7 (both incomplete).
• December 1854 - Batteries 5 and 6 are completed.
• October 1926 - Batteries 3 and 6 are designated national historic sites.
• July 1928 - No. 3 Battery is opened to the public as Metropolitan Daiba Park.
• June 1939 - Land reclamation is completed for No. 4 Battery.
• December 1961 - Removal of No. 2 Battery is completed.
• September 1962 - No. 5 Battery is covered by Shinagawa container terminal.
• March 1963 - No. 1 Battery is covered by Shinagawa container terminal.
• March 1965 - Removal of No. 7 Battery is completed.

Details of Battery Construction

In June 1853, Commander Matthew Perry of the East India Squadron arrived in Uraga Channel bearing a handwritten letter from Millard Fillmore (1800-1874), the 13th president of the United States, with the objective of opening Japan to the world.
Keenly feeling the necessity of strengthening coastal defense after this event, the shogunate had Egawataro Zaemon, who had been reporting on coastal defense, attend a government conference examining national defenses, and he ordered a survey of the entire coasts of the Miura Peninsula and the Boso Peninsula. The following July Egawatoro Zaemon submitted a report on the defense of Edo Bay containing the following two points:


1. Build batteries at Kannonsaki and Futtsu.
2. Build batteries in the inland sea off the coast of Shinagawa.


However, because of such events as the destruction by fire of the west compound of Edo Castle the previous May and the death in June of Tokugawa Ieyoshi, the 12th shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate, national finances were in an extremely poor state. Building batteries at Kannon and Futtsu was therefore problematic, and the shogunate chose instead to directly defend the Edo urban area by building batteries in the inland sea off the coast of Shinagawa.

The Shinagawa batteries construction plan at first called for lining the batteries up like stones in a game of Renju from the fishing village of Minamishinagawa to Fukagawa in Susaki (modern day Toyosu in Koto Ward) in the northeast. It called for building them in two rows, with 12 in the water and one on the coast of the fishing village. However, because of financial difficulties and other reasons, only batteries 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 were built, construction of batteries 4 and 7 was halted midway, and plans for the remaining batteries were scrapped before work began.

 

 

Procuring and Transporting Raw Materials for the Batteries

The materials used to build the Shinagawa batteries can be generally classified as wood, stone and earth. Below is more information about procurement and transport of these materials.

1. Wood

When the Shinagawa batteries were built, large amounts of pine and Japanese cedar logs, as well as pine firewood, were deemed necessary. The trees were cut down in a forest in the former village of Nedo (in parts of modern-day Abiko and Kashiwa) in Shimofusakoku (Chiba Prefecture), carried to the riverbank, placed on a boat and transported to Edo.
Pine logs were also brought in from Yarimizu Mura (modern-day Hachioji). This village had a vast forest known as Gotenyama, and there were plans to bring in 9,930 pine logs from it, but the plan was suspended and in the end only 4,924 logs were brought in from the forest.

2. Stone

The shogunate ordered stone to be procured in Izu, Sagami and Suruga and mobilized roughly 1,000 stonemasons to quarry and transport it. The work was completed in the winter of 1854.
Today the Shinagawa Daiba Soseki no Hi (Odaiba cornerstone monument) can be found in Kanagawa Prefecture's Manazuru-machi, which played a large role in the procurement of stone for the Shinagawa batteries. This was made using stone from a stone wall removed in 1965, after No. 2 Battery had been removed.

3. Earth

To create the artificial island Odaiba in the sea, large amounts of earth were needed in addition to wood and stone.
The earth was brought in from Odenyama, and then Takanawa and the grounds of Sengaku-ji temple, in modern-day Shinagawa ward. But that was not enough for the construction of Odaiba, so earth dredged from the Sumida River was also used, making it an unprecedentedly large construction project for the time.

 

 

Geographical Environment of the Shinagawa Batteries

Tokyo Bay naturally consisted of shoals and the deepest water and route most suitable for the passage of large ships is on the Chiba Prefecture side. However, the batteries were constructed precisely because the route where they were constructed was important for ships to enter Edo.
It is not the case, however, that no attention was paid to the Chiba Prefecture side. Batteries were built inclined toward the Chiba side in case of a raid from that side.

 

 

Construction of the Batteries

• Ammunition storehouses

• Artillery
There is a slight discrepancy between the actual deployment of artillery units at Odaiba and what is shown in the historical records, and it is difficult to ascertain the actual number deployed. 36 pound guns were deployed at No. 3 Battery. 写真:砲台
• Ammunition storage locations
There were two facilities used only for storing iron cannonballs installed per battery. 写真:玉置所
Facilities for storing gunpowder-based ammunition. Measures were needed to guard against explosive accidents, so stone huts to prevent explosions caused by bombardment were created, and wooden storage rooms were built within them to create double structures. 写真:玉薬置所
• Barracks (resting areas) remains
These were places for guards to eat and sleep. Guards went to the batteries in small boats and stayed in this area until next guards came to relieve them. 写真:兵舎(休憩所)跡

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